The New England Compounding Center has now been linked to 44 deaths and more than 600 cases of fungal meningitis. The contaminated steroid injections produced at its Framingham facility have brought horror and tragedy to households all across the country. The company filed for bankruptcy in December. In that filing, it has been revealed that the owners had been paid more than $16 million in wages and other payments. The company had increased its net sales from $20 million in 2010 to $32 million in 2012, even accounting for the lost sales after the pharmacy closed with a full quarter of the year still to come. The filing raises questions about how an enterprise so profitable could have allowed the unsanitary conditions at one of its facilities endanger the lives of so many.
The NECC has stated that it filed for Chapter 11 in order to set up a fund to compensate the victims of this meningitis outbreak. It has also stated that the company does not have adequate funds to fully compensate all the victims. Meanwhile, the company paid co-founder and chief pharmacist $3.2 million from December 2011 to November 2012. His wife received an additional $2.8 million in shareholder payments during that time period.
There is a precedent for filing criminal charges against owners in cases where unsanitary conditions caused illness and death. Criminal proceedings will not, however, help the families who have lost loved ones get compensation. The victims of this company will likely need to find other avenues to obtain the compensation they deserve for the harm they have suffered.
Source: USA Today, “Mass. Pharmacy owners got $16M in final months,” by Jay Lindsay, 22 January 2013